April 16: Injured occupants are carried out of Norris Hall at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
April 16: An unidentified man is restrained during a manhunt on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va.
April 16: An unidentified person is carried out of Norris Hall at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va.
Norman Dowling, a material sciences engineering professor, was in his Norris Hall office getting ready for his next class when he began receiving e-mail and voice mails about the shootings.
Then he said he began seeing “a considerable number” of police cars arriving.
“Police were surrounding the building. And I knew there had been a shooting on the other side of campus.”
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Police pounded on his office door — which was on the other side of the building from where the shootings took place — and he heard one yell, “padlocked and chained.”
“I just stayed in my office and sat on the floor,” Dowling said.
Dowling said he heard what could have been police pounding on doors or muffled gunshots. He said he doesn’t believe he heard gunfire from where he was in the building.
Professors had been catching up throughout the day and evening, he said.
“I think people are just still kind of in the stunned phase,” Dowling said.
Dowling said he thought the university acted appropriately.
“I think the authorities handled it as well as could be expected,” he said. At the time of the shootings in the morning, he said usually there are about 10,000 commuters on their way in to campus.
“What do you do with them? … The best thing you could do is tell people to stay where they are,” he said.
For himself, he said he usually would have been right next to the classrooms where the shootings were. The warning system might have saved his life, he said.
“If it hadn’t been for this, I would have been in there. If this had been a different day, I could have gotten caught up in it,” Dowling said.